Monday, October 12, 2009

Haven't We Seen This Before?

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 14, 1990 -- WASHINGTON, DC

19 Years ago, nearly to the day, the Washington Redskins lost a hard-fought battle to the hated New York Giants at RFK Stadium. It was a see-saw affair whose final result hinged on a special teams gaffe. Down 21-20 in the fourth quarter, the 'Skins defense forced a punt from their own 35. The Sean Landeta pooch punt should have bounced into the end zone, giving the Washington offense a chance to march down the field and kick a game-winning field goal. Didn't go down that way.

Instead, the punt bounded off the leg of special-teams blocker Johnny Thomas. It was recovered by the G-Men at the Redskins' 1. Though the 'Skins were able to limit NY to a field goal, they then needed a touchdown to win. Didn't go down that way.

I remember this game because I was there -- really there. One of our fraternity brothers' stepdad was the general manager of RFK at the time, so Rob and I joined him and our friend Cliff for an afternoon of all-access pass action at the old ballyard. I seem to recall Rob spending most of the day hanging in the press box near Madden & Summerall (ah, remember when we got to enjoy A-list announcers?) and Sonny & Sam, while I spent the game roaming the sidelines in childlike awe. When Jeff Hostetler got tackled on the sideline and lost his wind, Cliff and I were standing directly over him. ("Bummer, dude." He appreciated that.)

And we were precisely where we wanted to be as the Redskins were about to take receipt of the football for their inevitable game-winning drive. We were camped out deep in Giants territory. We'd be ringside when Stan Humphries led the team to victory. It was all set up for our viewing pleasure.

So when that punt came down and there was a bit of a skirmish, we couldn't tell what the hell was happening. I'm sure Rob and his bird's-eye-view got a clear and painful look at the Redskins Johnny Thomas-ing the game away, as it became known. But Cliff and I were left to wait for details, then to wonder what might have been.

As quoted in the New York Times recap: "That was the big play,'' Parcells said. ''It wasn't luck. You've got to make those plays.''

Indeed you do.

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 11, 2009 -- CHARLOTTE, NC

Yeah, you already know what happened. The 'Skins blew a 17-2 lead, and the critical swing came when special-teams blocker Byron Westbrook Johnny Thomas-ed a punt, giving the Panthers the ball back deep in Washington territory.

And while there is certainly unpleasant similarity between these two games -- it immediately dredged up the memories of that old game for me when Westbrook did his thing -- what I am noticing today are the differences.

Those Redskins were good, and led by greatness. Their opponent that day was an eventual Super Bowl winner, also led by a future Hall of Fame coach. These Redskins are awful, and these Panthers are only slightly less awful. John Fox didn't look like a genius yesterday, he just looked less out of his league than Jim Zorn. And what does it say when both head coaches are heavily rumored to be fired soon?

The points that day felt earned, while the points yesterday felt handed out like day-old doughnuts. The mistakes that day -- and there were a few -- were glaring, rare (the first 3 turnovers of the year for Joe Gibbs' offense), and not tolerated. (Stan Humphries would be benched a game later.) The mistakes yesterday? Same story, different week, different idiots.

The tenacity we saw at RFK 19 years ago has been replaced by status quo indifference. Lip service masks shoulder-shrugs and hasty retreats into spacious, elegant living quarters via luxury motorcars. Guys like Kurt Gouveia and Greg Manusky would find no refuge in this team's locker room. Neither Darrell Green nor Jim Lachey nor Earnest Byner nor Wilber Marshall would let this stuff go on for long. Chris Samuels, Clinton Portis, Santana Moss, and London Fletcher . . . they shouldn't either.

Most of 1990 was played without starting quarterback (and Super Bowl MVP a year later) Mark Rypien, who got hurt in an early game against the Cowboys. Four weeks after this tough loss, the Redskins got their asses kicked at the Vet in the "Body Bag Game"; eight 'Skins got knocked out of the game, including two QB's (not counting Rypien), so they finished with Brian Mitchell under center. Bad times.

And yet the '90 squad found a way to make the playoffs, even winning a playoff game . . . against the Eagles at the Vet -- avenging the Body Bag debacle, knocking the Birds out of the postseason, and leading to Buddy Ryan's firing a few weeks later, all of which ushered in the Rich Kotite Era. Not bad, 'Skins. Not bad at all, all things considered.

To say that the 2009 Washington Redskins are bereft of the drive, focus, leadership, and playmaking ability (if not the "talent") to pull off any salvation like the 1990 team is laughably understated. And every loyal, knowledgeable Redskin fans knows that there isn't a player, play, coach, or game that's going to right the ship at this point. Sad to say.

Zoltan wrote something similar recently, but I'm pretty damn far from those free-wheeling college days of 1990. (Not as far as most of my peers, but still . . .) Meanwhile, the Redskins franchise is just as many miles removed from what it was back then, too. The difference is that while things are drastically different in my life today, they are mostly good and just a little bad in ways that are different than they were mostly good and just a little bad two decades ago. For my favorite football team, however, they are wretched and miserable these days (and for much of the last two decades) in ways that they were fantastic and fun back then. And with Captain Edward Smith Queeg Ahab Snyder at the helm of this sinking ship, the horizon's not looking too sunny.

Danny, it's not luck. You've got to make those plays.

125 comments:

Mark said...

I know this isn't Redskins related but I'm having a very hard time figuring our how Cedric Benson's been so good this year after being so dreadful for the entirety of his NFL career up this point. The guy's one of the top 2-3 backs in the league so far this year. There are a lot of notable/unbelievable things going on in Cincy right now but Benson's emergence as a top tier tailback is among the more notable and/or unbelievable.

TJ said...

Less cheeba?

Mark said...

No TJ...more. High grade.

TJ said...

Alaskan thunderfuck?

rob said...

i actually spent most of that game in commissioner tagliabue's suite. the stadium always set one up for him, as he lived in dc, but he didn't post for that game. so we got free run of it.

TR said...

I know you Skins fans have tears in your beers these days, but you can all clearly remember multiple championships your team has run. And your franchise has been absolutely mediocre - not AWFUL, but not above average. So you don't have all that much to be upset about, relative to a lot of fans.

We'll leave the Bills out of this because they ripped hearts out 4 times, but they were a juggernaut for the better part of a decade. Fans could enjoy their team's product.

Jet fans, on the other hand, have about 40 years of (mostly) putrescence to remember. I have been watching the team for almost 30 years. My highlights are as follows: An AFC championship appearance in the strike-shortened 1982-83 year when they lost to the Fins in a monsoon in Miami, and the 198-99 year, when Terrell Davis, Elway and company mowed them down. That's it. Our only Hall of Famer is Joe Namath, widely considered the most over-rated player in the Hall. Our best defensive player was a 'roid head and our best wide receiver (Wesley Walker) was legally blind in one eye. And our most know personality is a fireman who presses his genitals on the back of another man's neck for three hours while he gets people to spell.

I don't doubt the absolute nature of your misery, but, on a relative basis, it could be a lot worse.

rob said...

these are all fair points. take them somewhere else.

zoltan said...

If I knew a Bengals fan I would point him here to follow up on TR's Jets rant.

Whitney said...

I think TR makes good points, and I won't really counter them.

I will say that Washington fans desperately need success from their Redskins. We have no real qualms with the fact that baseball has always (1924 excepted) been an enormous travesty in this town. Horrible, awful history, no big deal.

NBA? Same type story (1978 excepted). The Bullets/Wiz have risen from utter hopelessness to middle of the pack mediocrity. (And then fell back.) No big deal.

Hockey? An afterthought, even though it's the best-run franchise of the four. No Stanley Cups yet. No big deal.

But when it comes to football, the Redskins are a big deal. There were Slingin' Sammy's heroics way back when, Sonny, Vince Lombardi, the '72 Super Bowl, the George Allen years, some down years quickly erased by Gibbs 1.0, the Hogs, the Smurfs, Riggo's Rangers and 3 Super Bowl wins with 3 different QB's. Totally spoiled.

But the last 20 years are killing us. When all of your eggs are in one basket, and when one dimunitive owner keeps using that basket as his personal port-a-john, it's hard to take.

And perhaps the fact that the Skins have only interspersed 3-13 years here and there into 8-8's and 9-7's makes it even worse. Even the most pessimistic among us have gotten our hopes up about this team quite a few times in the last 15 years, only to have them dashed cruelly. And 8-8, when 4 or 5 of those wins were of the variety like we've seen this year against St. Louis & Tampa, might be just as grueling as 4-12.

But I won't gauge our angst as any worse than fans of the Jets, Bills, Bengals, Lions, or a few others over the years. Misery loves . . . how does that go?

Whitney said...

Also, TR, you might include the 2000 MNF comeback as a Jets all-timer. that it was a regular season game and not some momentous postseason victory underscores your point, of course.

Whitney said...

Oh, and don't forget about Johnny "Lam" Jones! He and Walker, plus Freeman McNeil and the New York Sack Exchange were good fun to watch in the 80's.

I went to a Jets game in the mid-90's. My uncle had season tickets. My cousins and I watched the Jets go up 21-0 on the Patriots, then slowly fritter it away and blow it. There was a malaise and resignation among the fans along the way back to the Meadowlands parking lot that looks a lot like what the Skins fans are doing after every game these days.

Shlara said...

Even though I'm a Steelers fan, I agree that its been tough watching the Snyder Skins. I grew up in the DC area, and got caught up in the enthusiasm, during the JKC years--the Fun Bunch, the Hogs, the Superbowl wins...

Plus, my uncle was an NFL game producer in the 80s, so I got to go to every big playoff game in RFK during the decade--you can't help but get caught up in the fervor when you were in RFK. My favorite was one game when my grandmother & I were sitting in folding chairs on the 20 yard line and a Skins running back ran into us, as he was running out of bounds. As a junior high school kid, it was totally embarrassing, but looking back now, it was really cool.

TJ said...

Dios Mios!

rob said...

yeah, nice start for the jetropolitans. color me unimpressed.

TJ said...

Braylon, score one or more TDs before I still think you're a punk ass bitch.

TJ said...

Jim Leonhard might spell his name funny but that honky be the shit.

TJ said...

Should I be concerned the guy in the booth is fellating Bill Callahan?

TJ said...

Um, the Phillies don't like to lose...

TJ said...

If any bullpen can fuck this up...go phillies...

TJ said...

Well Todd Helton, what you got?

rob said...

chase utley with a futile dive after my own heart.

TJ said...

Ok, game on...noooooooooo if you're a Phillies fan, is that Lidge's music?

TJ said...

Are Mike Tirico and John Saunders the same guy?

TJ said...

TR, yoy watching our boy?

TJ said...

Adam Schefter looks like a guy who owes TR $oney.

Michael said...

does anyone else laugh when Jaws says Mark Sanchez? It's like he is trying hard ot say it in a spanish way. It reminds me of a SNL skit with Jimmy Smits back when he was on LA Law and all of his co-workers were pronouncing everything with a spanish accent. it is actually making me feel slightly bad for Jaws.

TJ said...

I know the skit of which el Michael speaks.

Dios mio.

rob said...

brrroncos

TJ said...

Really u tiny fudge packer? Broncos? That's what you have to offer?

rob said...

lay off the pipe, mersh. it's from the skit.

TJ said...

I have to watch fucking Marc Anthony cheer on tackles???

TJ said...

Clinton is here man...

TR said...

I hope tonight shows that Mark Sanchez is really not (yet) remotely close to what he's being hyped up to be. He had a ridiculous Week 1 performance, and has been mostly pedestrian since then.

Anybody else get a boner when they showed Estefan in a sequined Marino jersey/top? No? Just me?

TJ said...

Isn't Dan Henning 900 yrs old?

Why didn't the Skins try to hire him?

TR said...

Henning...with his loose skin and his...old balls.

TJ said...

He ruined the good surprise

zoltan said...

Some ladies like that. Apparently.

Michael said...

nice pull, rob. that was definitely from the skit.

TJ said...

Dirty Sanchez bitches...

TJ said...

Holy shit...........

zoltan said...

Did that just happen?

zoltan said...

Mark san-CHEZ, as opposed to SAN-chez, gettin' it done.

Michael said...

wow, edwards. that was reminiscent of his michigan days

TJ said...

Big Z, um, you have any plays like that yesterday?

zoltan said...

No. But I would trade Chansi Stuckey for that guy.

TJ said...

Well played bills sad face.

zoltan said...

So I looked at Jamal Lewis' career stats after yesterday's debacle. That was his first 100 yard game since 2007.

TJ said...

Well, yeah, he went to federal pound you in the ass prison before that, right?

zoltan said...

That was a beautiful catch. Great athleticism. So un-Redskinesque. So non-Billsian.

zoltan said...

Right. So Jamal Lewis, the pounded version, not the 2000 yard season version, just ran all over the Bills.

TR said...

I'm 5 minutes behind on the DVR, but this is a classically bad challenge by the Fins on the TD catch. Their best bet is to let the Jets have 1st and goal at the 1. Their worst case is to lose their second TO while they are trailing in the 4th qtr.

I may eat these words when I catch up with real-time, but it sure looks dumb now.

zoltan said...

None of you care, but ... Mercedes destroyed the E Class. It looks like a cross between Optimus Prime and a cheese grater. Terrible styling for a $60k car.

TR said...

They win the challenge. Jets score on the next play. Well played by the smooth-dressed Sparano.

TJ said...

TR, would it kill you to hang in real time with us?

zoltan said...

Tony Sparano and Anthony Fasano sound like the proprietors of a gas station in Bogota, not key cogs in an NFL franchise.

zoltan said...

And Greg Camarillo is their squeegee guy.

TJ said...

Anthony Fasano has been running the BadaBing for 7 years before you got mouthy...

TJ said...

Listen, I'm no football expert, but come on...you couldn't cover that guy?

TR said...

Ginn...dagger.

zoltan said...

Jaws said to get him involved so they did.

TR said...

Anthony Fasano is the pride of Verona, NJ, where tons of Sopranos stuff was shot. Also from Verona...wait for it...wait for it...my wife's Dad Ron.

zoltan said...

Is that a sperm cell tattooed on the back of Henne's right arm?

TJ said...

Hi ron!

TR said...

Who else has to get up at 5:10 AM? Just me?

TJ said...

Fine arby's...you win...

zoltan said...

I worked with a guy from Verona. Last name Liptak. He didn't like being called Lipstick. But it happened.

TJ said...

Was he the mechanix at thw taxi station? And had the funny girlfriend?

zoltan said...

They traded for a bunch of shit. Drafted shit too.

TR said...

So Mark Anthony undoes one more button every quarter? That guy is built like an 11 year-old boy. No way his marriage is real.

TJ said...

Josh Heupel has a fine coaching xareer, so suck a d you canadian fuck.

zoltan said...

He's secretly dating Justin Timberlake.

TJ said...

"I can be your Henne baby..."

zoltan said...

A point a meant to make before - Jamal Lewis might be a Hall of Famer. He'll get to 11k yards this year. He has a ring, a league MVP, and a 2000 yard season. I think he might have to get in.

TJ said...

Over Terrel Davis' dead body.

zoltan said...

I think Terrell Davis should go in. But if he doesn't, it's because he didn't stick around long enough to get 11,000 yards like Lewis. Davis was definitely the better player.

TJ said...

And my boy Curtis Martin? Is he in Z?

zoltan said...

Without a doubt. He has to be a lock.

TJ said...

OK, just making sure...

Gruden just went "rock "em sock "em" robots...

TJ said...

Jaws has waaaaaay more faith in Marty's boy than I do

zoltan said...

I think Braylon Edwards is pissed off that he was only worth a 3rd, a 5th, Chansi Stuckey, and some special teams guy.

TJ said...

Um, ok, well done BS...and BE...

zoltan said...

Bullschtein call.

TJ said...

Braylon Edwards, the city of Cleveland has files a class action lawsuit againt you're lazy ass...

zoltan said...

So ... San-CHEZ >> Brady Quinn + Derek Anderson.

TJ said...

J-e-t-s...

TR said...

The bad pass interference call overshadowed the fact that Braylon totally dropped that pass. Right through his Bron Bron posse punching hands.

zoltan said...

The Jets know they have an awesome defense, right? And they're playing Chad Henne? In his 2nd start?

TJ said...

Jesus TR...can we not cut the guy a little slack?

zoltan said...

Dan Henning went to W&M?!

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/H/HennDa00.htm

TJ said...

What????

TJ said...

Is this Arena game going to OT?

zoltan said...

Henning presided over the Todd Collins Era.

zoltan said...

Wildcat? never heard of it.

TJ said...

Wildhorse...never take Z away...

zoltan said...

Wildfish.

TJ said...

Gruden and I both feel Pat White weighs less than my next bowel movement.

TJ said...

Someone check with that McNabb fellow...how does this OT work?

zoltan said...

Dan Henning fell in the shower, hit his head, and became an offensive genius.

TJ said...

You're doing flux capacitor jokes?

zoltan said...

He went from this:

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/buf/1997.htm

To Wildcat genius.

zoltan said...

Head trauma is the only explanation.

TJ said...

who is their kicker?

TJ said...

Mother fucker...

zoltan said...

Camarillo? Or Cam-a-ree-yo?

TJ said...

Kerry Rhodes just saved this game

zoltan said...

barnburner. nailbiter.

zoltan said...

Miami playing for the tie...

TJ said...

Overtime...jesus...just go OT

zoltan said...

Or not.

TJ said...

Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck

zoltan said...

Same old Jets.

TJ said...

Fuck u 3-6

zoltan said...

Big return here.

TJ said...

Fuck u

zoltan said...

Jim Leonhard could be my favorite former Bill still in the league. Smart play.

zoltan said...

Spags needs to get his sleeves hemmed.

TJ said...

Mark Sanchez is a sally. Awesome.

zoltan said...

Or Spars. Whatever. The Miami coach is a fat short man and the sleeves of his XXXL short-sleeved shirt are too long.

zoltan said...

Sanchez's last pass was not a vulgar display of arm power.

TJ said...

Stu Scott ruins every god damn highlight I watch.

TJ said...

Chad henne should tell millen and young to back off his junk

TJ said...

Matt Millen want to adopt Chad Henne.

TJ said...

My boy XXXL rexy...wow...its like we killed his cat....

I like this. He said horrendous. Go get em rex.

Whitney said...

You guys should be beaten publicly for not knowing Dan Henning went to W&M. Idiots.

You also know that Marv Levy and Lou Holtz coached the Tribe in the 60's, right? And, uh . . . Mike Tomlin went there, too.

mayhugh said...

Don't forget about Mark Kelso. Best helmet in the league. Ever.